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Google's view of small-business applications

Google's view of small-business applications

After my quick hands-on review of Google Apps for Your Domain, I had a chance to interview Matt Glotzbach, head of enterprise products for Google.

Rafe Needleman: What's the vision for Google's small-business products?

Matt Glotzbach: We're bringing the ease of use of consumer apps to a business setting, eliminating the cost of buying, installing, and maintaining servers. Our goal is to develop an application suite that leverages our infrastructure, that will serve as a platform to give businesses a significantly lower cost (or free) solution, and will also be a platform for the future.

This product is targeted for the small and medium business segment. We're getting traction in education. And there's been a lot of interest in larger enterprises.

RN: What about other applications, such as Writely and Spreadsheets?

MG: We see Google Apps for Your Domain as a platform that allows us to add new capabilities and whole new products, and roll them into the offering. We have nothing formal to announce at this time, but we are definitely looking at other products we can roll into the suite, and candidates are Writely and Spreadsheets.

We've also had requests for blogging and Google Groups, and for other technologies that haven't yet been released.

One of the benefits of the software as a service model is that we can deploy new capabilities quickly and at no cost to the customer.

RN: When will we see these new capabilities?

MG: There's no specific date yet, unfortunately. There will be a paid, premium version this year. At that time we may have additional capabilities.

RN: Paid services? Tell me more.

MG: The premium version will focus more on the needs of the medium and large business, focusing on support and service level agreement, and some additional services. We don't have specifics to announce at this time, but we're looking at things like APIs, single sign-on, and other prerequisites for an enterprise to adopt this technology.

RN: How will Google support the small business?

MG: The free version has support commensurate to our consumer products. You can submit requests and bugs to a queue, where a team of professionals will respond, but there is no guarantee of reply time. There's also a fairly massive support group that we participate in, in Google Groups.

RN: What about security and privacy?

MG: Obviously, end-user privacy and security are paramount to Google. We're not new to the hosted e-mail game; we have tens of millions of users who trust us with their e-mail.

But by no means do we feel this solution is for everyone. There are a set of organizations for whom this doesn't make sense at the time, especially regulated industries like health care and financial services. There are internal solutions [Google server appliances], and we are exploring those types of options.

RN: Do you plan to offer domain registration services?

MG: Not at this time. It's not our business. There are plenty of folks who do a great job at it. I will say that we're striving to make it easier to set up and configure, though.

RN: Compare Google's small-business philosophy to Microsoft's.

MG: In some ways I think it's very similar. [With Office Live,] Microsoft seems to be targeting more of the consumer or the individual, although they have some offerings for the small business. What we're trying to do is bring the consumer ease of use and user experience of Google E-mail and Calendar to the small business.